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Religious education today confronts modernity in more complex ways than is readily acknowledged. The flourishing of Islamic educational establishments in the West – the newly-founded Cambridge Muslim College in the United Kingdom and Zaytuna College in the United States come to mind – inevitably raises fundamental questions pertaining to Muslim religiosity. The survival of religious education distinct from the modern one is, so the criticism goes, suggestive of the failure of Islam to come to terms with modernity, as it clings resiliently to the relic of a bygone era. At the other end of the spectrum, Muslims often express their dismay at the failure of modern education to address their spiritual needs. It was Seyyed Hossein Nasr (b. 1933) – Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University in the United States, one of the world’s foremost Islamic philosophers and a renowned scholar of comparative religion – who once lamented over the ease with which modern education instils doubt in the faith of the Muslims. Is reconciliation then possible? We think in the affirmative, and the solution is to be found by inquiring into the philosophical underpinnings that support these systems.
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